Reviewed by Scott Murdock
Rating: 4.5 Beans
his re-telling of the Hollywood version of "Frankenstein" (not to be confused with Mary Shelley's version) is the story of Eddie Turner (Joe De Sue in his only film role), a Vietnam veteran who lost his arms and legs when he stepped on a land mine. When he is returned to a U.S. hospital his fiance, Dr. Winifred Walker (the lovely Ivory Stone, also in her only film role), seeks the assistance of a renouned physician who is experimenting with organ transplants. She pays a visit to this doctor, Dr. Stein (John Hart, better known to many of us as The Lone Ranger for season 3 and part of season 4 of the TV series) and learns that he has indeed been able to successfully attach new limbs to patients by using special injections of DNA and RNA on a daily basis to keep the new limbs animated and growing. Some of his early experiments resulted in some deformity as a side effect, but he has now solved that problem. Dr. Stein agrees to take Eddie on as a new patient, with Winifred assisting in the procedure.
There is no graverobbing here, Dr. Stein is a semi-legitimate scientist with genuine concern for the well-being of his patients. Unfortunately however, his assistant Malcomb (Roosevelt Jackson in his only film role) does not share this concern. Malcomb falls in love with Winifred, and when she rejects his advances, he realizes that the only way he stands a chance is to eliminate the competition -- Eddie.
After an incredibly successful surgery that restores all of Eddie's limbs, Malcomb begins secretly replacing Eddie's injections with the old formula that caused side-effects. The result? Eddie transforms into a stocky, muscular, 7-foot tall blusish-tinted creature with a huge forehead capped with an afro. Each night he breaks loose from Dr. Stein's clinic and kills somebody while the two doctors struggle to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.
Though technically blaxploitation, "Blackenstein" lacks several of the elements traditionally found in this genre. There is no hero who sleeps with all of the women. There is no plot focusing on drugs or prostitution. It does not seem to be about killing Whitey or bringing down The Man -- Eddie kills people of all races and, in fact, Dr. Stein himself is white and is not the focus of Eddie's wrath. However, as if the filmmakers realized about 3/4 of the way through that they had forgotten they were making blaxploitation, a nightclub scene is thrown in for a couple of minutes that has nothing at all to do with the movie.
The story is actually kind of interesting, and I liked the use of lighting (especially the eerie shadow effects in the lab), so I can't call this a terribly bad movie. However, I do have to give it a few beans for its inattention to detail. For instance, the first murder Eddie commits makes perfectly good sense, he seeks out and slaughters an orderly (Bob Brophy in his only film role) who tormented him while he was in the VA hospital. After that, all of the remaining murders seem random. As far as we know Eddie has never met any of these people, the only thing they have in common is that they are outside at night and that they had either just had sex, were thinking about having sex, or were trying to avoid having sex. There are numerous other instances of inattention to the fine details, the most blatant (and funny) of which is Eddie's arms and legs. Before the surgery Eddie is suppossed to just be a head and torso, no arms and legs at all. Yet, no effort is made to conceal the actor's real arms and legs. In fact, watch when he is unloaded from the ambulance... the form of arms and legs can be clearly seen in the sheet and, yes, those are indeed feet poking out at the end!
If you should decide to see this movie, pay particular attention to Eddie's fascination with intestines. If you can figure it out, let me know. I'm stumped.
"Bad Movie Night" is a presentation of
Hit-n-Run Productions, © 1997-2006,
a subsidiary of Syphon Interactive, LLC.
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